We could hold yellow bulbs, little moons
In our palms, flood our tongues with saliva
Outfox the taste buds with an unheralded
Sweetness, wash the cavity with sulfur monsoons
And close the cleft to sheer indulgence

(Mangoes have a habit of doing just that)

Mangifera indica are trees that turn to
Seasonal pandols, northern lights to a limestone peninsula.
As if souls of good men with untarnished consciences
That vanished to projectile smoke, were now hanging from branches
In a bonanza of the perfect interface
Between green and yellow – Artists call this chartreuse

And under these trees are where innocent little
Tamils girls and boys practice a little game
Of hopscotch, where a crescent-shaped mango seed
Is thrown inside the margins of squares
And little feet skip and jump on their toes
Cheering their own playful spirits.

And when the game is over, they hover
Around a plate of mango slices, peppered with salt
And chili flakes, as they burn their buccal ceilings
With a splash of color and spiciness.
The same mangoes that saw bullet-pierced
Foreheads hanging from branches
Like oblong fruits on a tree

A slice of mango is hope for street vendors
And perhaps that mango lassi sipped by the youth who drives
A rickshaw, is the cooler that makes one
Forget the stranglehold of yesteryear, even fogs of anxiety
And lifts the spirits through the lumen of a straw

A mango, in this graveyard north, is a ritual of prayer and healing,
A nexus between war and peace. An interface
To a bitterness that turned to a sweeter tone of yellow
Like radiant dawn streaming over Trincomalee harbor

And at nightfall, we don’t have one moon here.
We have bunches of moons plucked from the sky
And slapping against our moist dewy lips

And we call that lantern-dappled tree, candy man.

Dilantha Gunawardana is a poet from Sri Lanka. He was educated at University of Melbourne and currently serves as a Lecturer in the Molecular Plant Sciences. He published his maiden anthology of poems – Kite Dreams, Sarasavi Publishers, ISBN: 978-955-31-0598-1 – in 2016.